Reidblog [The Reid Report blog]

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Thursday, November 20, 2008
Boumediene beats Bush
A federal judge orders Lakhdar Boumediene and four of five other Algerians released from the American gulag after seven long years:

The decision came in the case of six Algerians who were detained in Bosnia after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks and have been held at the military prison in Cuba for nearly seven years. U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon, a Bush appointee, ruled that five of the men must be released "forthwith" and ordered the government to engage in diplomatic efforts to find them new homes.

In an unusual move, Leon also urged the government not to appeal his ruling, saying "seven years of waiting for our legal system to give them an answer" was long enough.

In the case of the sixth Algerian, Belkacem Bensayah, Leon found that the government had met its evidentiary burden and could continue to hold him. Bensayah's lawyers said he would appeal.

The landmark ruling is the first by a federal judge who has weighed the government's evidence in lawsuits brought by scores of detainees who are challenging their detentions. In June, the Supreme Court ruled in a case brought by the Algerians, that Guantanamo Bay detainees have the right to challenge their detentions in federal court under the legal doctrine of habeas corpus.

To review, Boumediene and his cohorts were picked up in Sarajevo on the tip of a single, anonymous person, and accused of plotting to blow up the U.S. enemy, and planning to go to Afghanistan to fight the Americans. Boumediene's case ultimately went to the Supreme Court, causing various right wing heads to 'splode:

Scalia got the ball rolling in his shrieky dissent yesterday, adopting almost word for word, the Fox News/right wing talk show formulation that "Americans will die" if our eternal detainees are allowed to challenge their endless detention in court.

The Wall Street Journal editorial board weighs in with its hysterical reaction today, directing their ire at Justice Anthony Kennedy, the Ronald Reagan appointee wrote the decision in the case of Boumediene v. Bush:
Justice Kennedy's opinion is remarkable in its sweeping disregard for the decisions of both political branches. In a pair of 2006 laws – the Detainee Treatment Act and the Military Commissions Act – Congress and the President had worked out painstaking and good-faith rules for handling enemy combatants during wartime. These rules came in response to previous Supreme Court decisions demanding such procedural care, and they are the most extensive ever granted to prisoners of war.

Yet as Justice Antonin Scalia notes in dissent, "Turns out" the same Justices "were just kidding." Mr. Kennedy now deems those efforts inadequate, based on only the most cursory analysis. As Chief Justice John Roberts makes clear in his dissent, the majority seems to dislike these procedures merely because a judge did not sanctify them. In their place, Justice Kennedy decrees that district court judges should derive their own ad hoc standards for judging habeas petitions. Make it up as you go!

Or not... More on Boumediene himself:


Lakhdar Boumediene, now 41, travelled to Bosnia with five other Algerian men during the civil war in the 1990s, and may have fought with Bosnian forces against the Serbs.

The six stayed in Bosnia, married Bosnian women, were granted citizenship and took jobs working with orphans for various Muslim charities.

In October 2001, the US embassy in Sarajevo asked the Bosnian government to arrest them because of a suspicion they had been involved in a plot to bomb the embassy.

The six men were duly arrested. But after a three-month investigation, in which the Bosnian police searched their apartments, their computers and their documents, there was - according to a report by the New-York-based Center for Constitutional Rights - still no evidence to justify the arrests.

Bosnia's Supreme Court ordered their release, and the Bosnian Human Rights Chamber ruled they had the right to remain in the country and were not to be deported.

However, on the night of 17 January 2002, after they were freed from Bosnian custody, they were seized and rendered to Guantanamo.

Since arriving in Guantanamo, the men have faced repeated allegations of links to al-Qaeda - but the embassy plot has never been mentioned.
Now, all that's left is for the Bush administration to defy the federal judge and continue to hold them anyway, until President Obama is sworn in and the U.S. finally does the right thing. Either way, these men's ordeal is almost over. Let's hope it's not too late, and that they have not become so embittered that they really do become combatants against the United States.

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